health and wealth
Here's a paragraph I read this morning while working on my chapter on Protestant mission efforts in the Congolese social service sector:
"The Lord told the children of Israel that obedience to his commandments would bring health and prosperity. His word has not changed, nor has his will for the health of his people. Teaching, motivating, demonstrating, and promoting are essential to restoring and maintaining health. The church is God's instrument for accomplishing this in Zaire..."
- Daniel E. Fountain, “The Health Ministry” in Dean R. Kirkwood, ed., Mission in Mid-Continent: Zaire: One Hundred Years of American Baptist Commitment in Zaire: 1884-1984 (Valley Forge, PA: International Ministries ABC, 1984), 91.
I am missing Goma a lot lately. Turns out that three years in a row of traipsing around a place means that I left a little part of myself there. A year ago last weekend, I walked up to the border for a sojurn I'd been dreading, saw Wilco Ben standing there, and both of us laughed in shock in one of those only-in-the-movies kind of ways. Then I saw N, and J and L, and everyone else, and remembered why I came so far.
I need to be writing in Austin this summer, but I still miss it. I miss my friends there, and I miss getting to see how remarkable people who have so little find ways to respond to a series of crises the impact of which you cannot begin to imagine unless you have seen it.
Dr. Fountain's quote got me wondering what would happen if the prosperity gospel people (you know, the "name-it-and-claim-it, Jesus wants us all to be rich" types) were to think of God's promise of health and prosperity not as something we get if we're faithful enough, but as something that we are to be part of giving. Or if those American Christians who seem to think that a church isn't a church unless it has 5,000 members and a sparkly new gymnatorium, I wonder what they would think if we said that we should use that prosperity for God's work and not for ourselves? Because I have a feeling that it's the giving that makes us faithful.